Because of my recent foray into backing and coaching, I am now exposed to a large number of results from a heterogeneous group of players at multiple limits. I watch a lot of hand histories, and I look at a lot of spreadsheets. I get at least 5, and often more than a dozen bad beat/bad run PMs or emails every day.
This experience and exposure has taught me a great deal about the difference between winners and losers. I am becomming a much better player as a result of it. I'm going to share something that I have learned which I feel may be the single most important key to playing SNGs for a living.
The following is not at all meant to be a criticism of anyone who has sent me a rant about running badly. I have certainly done my share of complaining in the past. This is just an explanation of something I have learned. I hope it will help you all, because it has helped me.
Everybody will eventually run worse than they thought was possible. The difference between a winner and a loser is that the latter thinks they do not deserve it.
That which we shall not speak of has happened to me. It's going to happen to you, too, if you play long enough. If you believe that such a bad run exists only in the most improbable of statistical wastelands, you will feel particularly unlucky while it's happening to you. This will make you feel like you don't deserve what's happening.
"Why is this happening to me? Why is it lasting so long? How can they play so poorly while I play so well as they continually outdraw me? This doesn't make sense. It's not fair."
This type of internal dialogue is poisonous. It causes players who have enough skill to beat the game to quit the game instead. The only difference between a loser and a quitter is that at least a loser is still in the action.
All of the players that I back and coach have the requisite skill to beat SNGs for enough money to make a living. 90% of them are currently winning. But I predict that less than 20% of them will be consistently playing and consistently winning one year from right now.
I look at how the names have changed on this forum over the years. I've been on the 2+2 forum for around 5 years (under a different name), and Fossilman was the only poster I can remember who stayed around for more than 2 years. (I'm sure there are a few more, but not many.) Obviously, he didn't leave because he quit or got loser... but it's also quite obvious why he's the exception.
I am beginning to realize that most people don't have the psychological fortitude or spiritual perspective to manage the vicissitudes of this game. I also believe that of the very small number of professional poker players who have been successful for more than a few years, most of them are actually quite lucky. I believe that there are many pros who will fail once they begin to experience average luck.
Now for the good news.
I think you can learn how to avoid this trap of psychological betrayal. I think I'm beginning to learn it myself. It involves turning your noise filter all the way up. There are only two signals emitted from the poker universe:
1. The universe will unfold as it should 2. If you play the right way, and your opponents do not; you will win.
Everything else is noise, and to make too much of anything that doesn't expressly involve the two above facts is to pave the road to failure.
Poker has nothing to do with good luck or bad luck, fairness or unfairness; and there is no such thing as the unbelievable.
It is what it is, fellow warriors. Learn which side you want to be on, and be there as often as possible. Assess your position in this regard as frequently and precisely as possible... but stand firm and calm. Resolve is rewarded. Chafe is the mark of a loser.